Best Ways to Take Money to Thailand in 2023
Friendly people, stunning scenery and a great climate make Thailand a top tourist destination all year round. Whether you’re looking to visit cultural sites, hang out with elephants or relax on the beach, there’s an idyllic option awaiting you. Thailand doesn’t have to be a super expensive place to visit - but you will still need some baht on hand to pay for things while you’re there.
This guide walks through 4 of the most popular ways to take money from Canada to Thailand, including their benefits and drawbacks, to help you pick the right one for you.
Best ways to take money to Thailand
The best way to take money to Thailand will depend on your specific needs and personal preferences. To help you decide which option or options will work for you, this guide walks through the pros and cons of the following choices:
Prepaid travel cards to use in Thailand
Ideal for: easy ways to add money in Canadian dollars and then withdraw and spend Thai baht on arrival, with low fees and good exchange rates
Some prepaid travel cards available from specialist services here in Canada allow you to add money in CAD and then convert to the currency you need in your destination. That means you can add your funds whenever you’re ready and switch over to THB for spending and withdrawals, to lock in the exchange rate and set your travel budget. It’s also possible to leave your balance in CAD and then just have the payment card convert for you when you transact - but bear in mind some cards may charge a fee for this service.
As well as Thai baht, prepaid travel cards are usually linked to a multi-currency account you can use to hold a selection of currencies, and manage them from your phone. You may also get extra features like ways to send and receive international payments, depending on the specific card you select. A prepaid travel card with no ongoing fees and a broad selection of supported currencies can be used for all your spending and withdrawals in foreign currencies, making this a good choice for frequent travellers too.
Learn more about our picks for the 5 best prepaid cards - there’s more on our top choice, Wise, next.
Wise - our pick for prepaid travel card
With this card:
Hold and exchange 40+ currencies and manage your money from your phone
No annual or monthly fees to pay, and no minimum balance requirement
Currency exchange uses the mid-market rate with no markup
Some free ATM withdrawals available every month
Receive payments to your account with local bank details for up to 9 currencies
|Wise card pros||Wise card cons|
✅ Currency exchange uses the mid-market rate
✅ No foreign transaction fees apply
✅ Free to hold and spend 40+ currencies
✅ Receive payments to your Wise account in a selection of global currencies
✅ No minimum balance or ongoing fees
❌ It can take up to 14 days for your physical card to arrive by mail
❌ Free ATM withdrawals are limited to 2 per month, to the value of 350 CAD. Fees of 1.75% + 1.5 CAD after that
❌ 10 CAD fee to receive payments to Wise in CAD, via SWIFT
Pros and cons of taking money to Thailand with a prepaid travel card
Hold a balance in THB and spend with no extra fee
Not connected to your normal bank account which is good for security
Cards are available with no minimum balance or ongoing fees to pay
Currency exchange may have better rates than a bank will offer
Not all prepaid cards have international features - look out for one specifically optimised for travel
Exchange rates may include a markup on the mid-market rate
ATM fees may apply, depending on the card you pick
Some cards won’t support THB for holding and exchange, and may charge a fee if you spend in an unsupported currency
Travel debit cards to use in Thailand
Ideal for: spending overseas conveniently with a multi-currency account that is not linked to your main CAD account
If you prefer to spend with a card when you’re away, having a separate account for travel purposes can be a smart move from a security perspective. That means you can keep your travel budget apart from your primary CAD account - plus, if your travel card was stolen or lost, you can cancel it without needing to replace your normal CAD bank card.
Some travel debit cards also support multi-currency balances, which can make it easier to set your budget in advance, However, Thai baht isn’t a commonly supported currency which means you may pay a foreign transaction fee when you’re spending and making withdrawals in Thailand.
We’ll go into more detail about our top pick for a travel debit card - the Canada Post Cash Passport - next. You can also learn more about the best travel debit cards in Canada here.
Canada Post Cash Passport - our pick for travel debit card
With this card:
Get your card conveniently online or in a Canada Post location
Load any of up to 7 major foreign currencies - THB is not supported for holding a balance
No fee to spend a currency you hold in your account
Lock in exchange rates in advance of travel
Free secondary card in case your first is lost or stolen
|Canada Post Cash Passport card pros||Canada Post Cash Passport card cons|
✅Hold 7 major currencies in your account
✅No extra fee to spend a currency you hold
✅Issued on the Mastercard network for global acceptance
✅Contactless payments or Chip and PIN options
✅24/7 global assistance if you lose your card
❌15 CAD fee to get your first card
❌3.25% fee if you spend in TRY or another currency you don’t hold in your account
❌Top up and cash out fees may also apply
Pros and cons of taking money to Thailand with a travel debit card
Keep your travel money separately to your main bank account for easier budgeting and extra security
Some cards can be picked up instantly in person with no need to wait for delivery
Cards from specialist services are often linked to multi-currency accounts you can use on future trips too
No restrictive eligibility rules, interest or penalty fees
THB may not be supported for holding a balance, which means you may pay fees when you spend in Thailand
You may pay a fee when converting from one currency to another, which can be rolled up in the exchange rate you get
Some cards have card order or closure costs associated
Taking cash in Thailand
Ideal for: most purchases - cash is the primary payment method used in Thailand
Cash is used for nearly two thirds of all transactions in Thailand. In major tourist areas you’ll find that hotels, stores and restaurants may accept a card payment, but you’ll definitely need some baht in cash when making smaller purchases, if you’re off the beaten track or when you’re or shopping at markets and independent retailers.
You can buy THB travel money in advance from a service like Canada Post, or you may prefer to carry cash in CAD, USD or EUR to exchange on arrival. However, the easiest option for many people is just to make ATM withdrawals once you’re there. That means you don’t need to carry all your travel money on departure, and you don’t need to be organised in advance. If you use a prepaid travel card from a provider like Wise you might also find you get some fee free withdrawals and a great exchange rate.
Do I need cash in Thailand?
Yes. Cash is used for over 60% of transactions in Thailand so you’ll need to have THB with you at all times.
The easiest option is usually to get your travel cash as and when you need it by making ATM withdrawals on arrival. Choose a prepaid card or travel debit card and you may also find you benefit from low or no fees and a strong exchange rate.
How to buy Thai baht on arrival in Thailand?
If you want, you can carry Canadian dollars or another major currency like EUR or USD, to exchange when you land in Thailand. However, bear in mind that exchange options will be limited outside of busy areas - and as you’ll need to shop around to get a good deal you’ll have to take precious time out of your trip. Avoiding the exchange service offered by your hotel, and heading to a busier area in a city or resort to exchange your money will usually mean getting a better exchange rate.
How to buy Thai baht in Canada?
You can buy Thai baht in cash in Canada before you travel if you want to make sure you have some in your pocket when you arrive. Canada Post has partnered with CIBC to offer foreign cash for collection or home delivery, or there are individual currency exchange stores in all major urban centres. Fees and exchange rate markups may apply.
Best place to get Thai baht from
There’s no single best place to get your travel cash. Providers pick their own rates and fees, which can vary widely. Shopping around is essential - remember to look at both any upfront cost and the exchange rate being offered, as there’s often an extra charge tucked away in the rate a provider uses for retail customers.
Pros and cons of taking cash to Thailand
Cash is often the only way you’ll be able to pay, so having some is essential
Carrying some cash at all times is a good back up in case your card can’t be used
Make ATM withdrawals when you need to and you won’t have to carry large amounts of cash at any one time
Carrying a lot of cash isn't particularly safe
You’ll usually waste time during your break if you’re having to compare costs to get a good deal
Exchange rates vary widely and usually include a markup - an extra fee
Travel credit cards to use in Thailand
Ideal for: secure and convenient spending in THB with options to spread out the cost of your trip over a few months instead of saving in advance
Travel credit cards can be used as easily as any other credit card - but you’ll benefit from international features like low or no foreign transaction fees, complimentary travel insurance or extra rewards when you spend overseas. There are eligibility restrictions to consider, and you’ll often have to pay an annual fee, but credit cards can have attractive benefits - plus you may need one as a payment guarantee when hiring a car or checking into a hotel.
One important point for travel to Thailand is that credit cards are expensive when making cash withdrawals with a cash advance charge and higher rates of interest compared to purchases. As cash will be pretty essential during your trip to Thailand, this can push up your overall costs.
Learn about our top pick - the HSBC World Elite Mastercard - next.
HSBC World Elite Mastercard - our pick for travel credit card
With this card:
Spend internationally with no foreign transaction fee
Variable interest rate based on purchase type and personal circumstances
Add extra cardholders to your account for free
Lots of extras and travel benefits offered
24/7 support of you’re a victim of theft or fraud
|HSBC World Elite Mastercard pros||HSBC World Elite Mastercard cons|
✅ No foreign transaction fee
✅ Up to 4 supplementary users on each account with no extra annual charge
✅ 24 hour worldwide assistance to get cash to you if your card is stolen
✅ Some complimentary insurance offered
✅ Options to earn rewards, including enhanced benefits for travel spending
❌ Interest and penalty fees may apply depending on how you use your card
❌ Annual fee of 149 CAD
❌ ATM withdrawals come with fees and a higher rate of interest compared to purchases
Pros and cons of travel credit cards to Thailand
Get travel rewards, discounts and perks when you spend overseas
You can spread the costs of your trip out over a few months
Some cards have low or no foreign transaction fees
Use as a payment guarantee in hotels and when renting a car
Interest and fees usually apply if you don’t pay back your bill immediately
Cash advance and interest costs apply when using an ATM
Eligibility rules apply
Travel requirements from Canada to Thailand
If you’re going from Canada to Thailand as a tourist, you’ll not usually need a visa for short visits of up to 30 days. You will, however, need to double check your passport is valid for 6 months after the point you enter Thailand or you may be turned back from the border.
Check the Canadian government’s travel advisory page to learn more and to get detailed information for your specific destination.
Does Thailand accept Canadian dollars?
No. You won’t be able to spend CAD anywhere in Thailand. If you’re carrying Canadian dollars with you you'll need to exchange them for Thai baht when you arrive.
Best currency to take to Thailand
You’ll only be able to spend in Thai baht in Thailand. While you can carry cash in CAD and convert it on arrival, or get some baht in cash before you leave, for many travellers using a specialised travel card for cash withdrawals as and when you need them is the easiest solution.
Top travel money tips to Thailand
Here are a few final tips to help your money go further while you’re away:
Have several different payment methods in case one isn't accepted wherever you are
Get a travel money card before you leave to make it easier and cheaper to spend and withdraw in Thailand
Use the handy Exiap guides to learn more about currency exchange, travel cards, and more
How much money do I need per day in Thailand?
Thailand offers great travel options for all budgets. While you can splash out on top end luxury, it’s also popular with backpackers and people trying to cut the costs of day to day life. Generally, you’ll find food and attractions are pretty cheap, and there are plenty of different accommodation options to suit all budgets.
In Thailand on average you’ll find a 3 course lunch for 2 will set you back in the region of 34 CAD, but bear in mind that around popular tourist destinations you may pay more. A domestic beer is under 3 dollars, and you can pick up a cheap meal for about the same cost.
Do some detailed research to see how much things are likely to cost based on your plans and where you’re headed, so you can plan your budget. Get more detailed cost information by country and city, from Numbeo.com.
How much does it cost to fly from Canada to Thailand?
At the time of writing (November 2023), the cheapest flights from Canada to Thailand start from around 1,400 CAD per person return. These cheaper options are likely to include one or more stops and layovers which increase journey time. Direct flights are available but come with a higher price tag - at the time of research, you’ll pay at least 1,700 CAD for a direct flight.
Conclusion - best ways to take money to Thailand
You’ll need Thai baht to pay for things during your trip. Having several different ways to pay is usually a good bet, just in case one option isn’t accepted by a merchant or hotel.
A good solution for many people could be to get a travel card - such as a prepaid travel card from Wise or a Canada Post Cash Passport - and to carry that as well as your regular debit or credit card as a back up. You can then use your travel card to make ATM withdrawals on arrival to get baht in cash. Plus if you pick the Wise card you can hold a balance in THB so you can lock in your exchange rate and set your budget in advance.
Use this guide to decide which option to take money to Thailand will work best for you, based on your own preferences and needs.
FAQ - best ways to take money to Thailand:
Should I exchange money before I travel to Thailand?
While you can switch Canadian dollars for THB before you travel, it’s actually very easy to just make a cash withdrawal at an ATM on arrival in Thailand. This can also be cheap, and may get you a better exchange rate compared to exchanging in advance, particularly if you have a travel card from a provider like Wise.
Can I withdraw Thai baht from a local ATM?
You can’t withdraw Thai baht at a normal ATM in Canada. However, you can get a travel card to make an ATM withdrawal on arrival in Thailand, which will often mean you pay less compared to using your bank card.
Are prepaid travel cards a good way to take money to Thailand?
Travel prepaid cards from services like Wise are a safe way to spend when abroad. With Wise you’ll also get mid-market exchange rates and low, transparent fees which can bring down the costs of your trip.
Can I use cash in Thailand?
Yes. In many cases, cash will be the only option for making payments in Thailand. In general, making sure you always have some cash in Thai baht, and a travel card for spending or getting cash from an ATM, is a good choice so you have a back up plan if you ever need it.